The last five years, Region 3 has clearly been the dominant force in Class AA golf.
Wyoming East started the run with back-to-back wins before Westside won the title in 2018. Shady Spring was the third Region 3 squad to hoist the championship trophy by out-dueling North Marion last year.
Region 3 has also claimed four of the last five individual titles.
Brett Laxton from Wyoming East was the best in 2016 before Carson Proffitt won in a playoff in 2018. Shady Spring standout Todd Duncan took home the last two individual crowns.
Now the question becomes, can Region 3 keep the momentum going this year?
Nothing is ever certain in golf and can change from swing to swing, but, on paper, Region 3 is again loaded with talented AA teams.
Shady Spring returns a solid group along with recent regional newcomer, Herbert Hoover. Wyoming East is always a team to watch, while Nicholas County and PikeView have fielded solid teams in the past.
However the team that brings the most loaded credentials to the course this year could be Westside.
“We have some talent. We have a leader in Tanner Walls who is a senior this year. He has played well every year for us. Then we have Kerri-Anne Cook who played great as a freshman and has played great all summer,” Westside head coach Jeremy Warrix said.
Walls spent his summer excelling on the Blue Ridge Tour where he earned Player of the Year honors.
“I have played golf since I was six years old. My PawPaw’s and my dad got me started,” Walls said. “I was three years old when I picked up a Wiffle Ball bat and hit the baseball off the ground. Dad got me my first golf club on my fourth or fifth birthday. Then I would go down to the course with my PawPaw’s about six o’clock in the morning. We were the dew sweepers. You had to wear sweatpants in the morning and strip about nine.”
Walls made his first impact on high school golf as a freshman on the 2018 championship team.
“He was really solid for us,” Warrix said. “He was the key. I had two studs that year and Tanner came in and shot 80-80 for the two days.”
Cook has also had a banner summer winning the 2021 West Virginia Jr. Amateur and finishing sixth at the 98th West Virginia Women’s Amateur. Cook capped off her summer by being named Player of the Year on the Callaway Jr. Tour.
The sophomore sensation also opened the eyes of the high school golf world last year when she qualified for the state tournament as an individual.
Each region around the state qualifies the top two teams, as well as the top two individual scores not on those teams.
Cook could have been just happy to be at the state tournament in her first year, instead she went there to make an impact.
“She ended up getting third as a freshman and she didn’t feel like she played that well. I told her, no you played great,” Warrix said.
“A lot of golf has been played. That is pretty much all I have done,” Walls said. “Kerri-Ann has been playing a lot of golf too and she has been a really clutch player.”
High school golf teams are made up of four players with the best three scores counting towards the team score. Warrix is now searching for players to compliment Walls and Cook.
“I have a really good 1-2 combination. Now I am looking for that third golfer,” Warrix said. “For various reasons we lost a couple golfers that have played for us the last couple of years. So some of the younger kids are going to have to step up. Right now we have Wyatt Osborne and Owen Hamon playing spots three and four. That will change some throughout the year because I have several players that shoot about the same kind of score.”
While Warrix feels his team could be a force on the tough Speidel Course in Wheeling, home of the state championship matches, getting out of the region will not be an easy road.
“Shady is good and I think we will be good. Herbert Hoover has a good team. Last year (Hoover) came in and all of them shot in the 70’s and 80’s in the regional. You never know, another state champion could come out of this region.”
While the veteran Westside coach is confident, he also knows golf can be a fickle rollercoaster ride.
“The top two have to be consistent and I think they can be. That third or fourth person is going to have to come in and shoot a decent score,” Warrix said. “It will take a lot of practice. Sometimes kids don’t realize how much work it takes to be good in this sport. It is a lot of individual time, but this younger group really works. Maybe that state championship three years ago is why they came out this year.”